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Imagine you're sitting in the corner, writing down a conversation that is occurring in the middle of the room. What are you doing?

"Copying down" is what I'm using, but it seems like there should be a better word.

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If you are taking it down verbatim, you are transcribing it, and the finished product is a transcription. It you are just making notes of the gist of the conversation, you are taking a record of it.

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    In the US, that would be making a record of it. Taking it down (in writing/shorthand/IPA) usually refers to transcription, and taking a record sounds to my ears like a phrase out of "Prime Suspect". – John Lawler Sep 20 '13 at 15:29
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    Make a record is also possible in BrEng, but take the record of, say, a meeting is used in the British public service. – Barrie England Sep 20 '13 at 15:44
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Maybe you are being a stenographer without knowing stenography well enough to use stenography or shorthand.

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In addition to the other possible answers given here, you could be said to be taking dictation.

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    Can you be said to be 'taking dictation' if the speaker is not actually 'dictating' but, let's say, having a conversation with someone? – WS2 Dec 12 '14 at 22:49
  • @WS2 - I would just call that 'transcription'. – Erik Kowal Dec 13 '14 at 1:31
  • Which is not 'dictation'! – WS2 Dec 13 '14 at 9:08
  • @WS2 - The questioner's wording did not preclude a setting like a courtroom or formal hearing where the proceedings are supposed to be recorded. In such a case, 'dictation' is not excluded as a possible description. – Erik Kowal Dec 13 '14 at 9:34
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    @WS2, "dictation" can be used pretty loosely, "wrote my first poem at the age of four or five, my mother taking it down to dictation". – Pacerier Sep 28 '15 at 12:08

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